The campaign to turn an abandoned railroad line into a new park running through Queens got a huge lift with a $443,750 grant from the state that was announced on Friday.
The project, called QueensWay, will be able to use the funding from the New York City Regional Economic Development Council toward the design of the first phase of the proposed park, officials said on Friday.
“This vital grant brings us one step closer to making the QueensWay a reality,” said Rep. Joe Crowley. “I thank Gov. Cuomo and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council for their steadfast commitment to building a unique park in our borough that will not only provide great health and environmental benefits to the surrounding communities but also the potential to spur significant economic growth in the area.”
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said the governor’s economic council targets funding to projects that will have an impact on the local economy. “The QueensWay is one of those projects and I’m glad to support the great effort of The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay to bring this transformative project to our community,” he said.
Funding, which goes jointly to the Friends of Queensway and The Trust for Public Land, will be used to design the park’s “Northern Gateway” section, beginning in Rego Park, near Forest Hills.
“This site, at the north end of the QueensWay, is an ideal way to begin to connect the residents to a portion of this 47-acre corridor,” read a statement announcing the grant. “The section will retain and feature a large number of mature trees and will include a nature-themed adventure playground, large bioretention basins and other green infrastructure that can absorb large quantities of stormwater, and access paths to adjacent streets.”
QueensWay calls for converting the 3.5-mile-long former rail corridor into a “linear park and cultural greenway.”
While the project enjoys the support of many elected officials, it also faces opposition from other city and state lawmakers who want the MTA to return rail service that they say is desperately needed to link southern Queens with Manhattan.
“I am deeply disappointed with the Regional Economic Development Council’s recent decision to grant funding for a park proposal on Rockaway Beach Rail Line right-of-way. Our tax dollars are being wasted on overpriced out-of-borough consultants that shove their one-sided studies and expensive designs down our throats. The Council has once again ignored the needs of real Queens families who struggle with our lack of transit options,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “It’s clear that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best and most cost-effective way to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development. I will continue to fight until this becomes a reality and our families in Queens have the transportation options they need and deserve.”
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